Tuesday, January 17, 2012

home goal 2012 - the kitchen renovation

...or the front-half-of-the-house renovation.  That's probably more appropriate.

We have had excuse after excuse (some good, some just that, excuses) as to why we can't do the kitchen this spring, summer, etc.  (we talk in seasons a lot.  Hmm.  Never thought about that before.  Anyway!)  Hubby is game on getting the kitchen done, and so am I.  We are jumping in, tossing our cares to the wind.

But not without a plan.  Which will be posted hopefully this week.

Here is the before-before, days before we moved in:

(I still have that bag!  But not the curtains.)

Here is a close-up of my mini-kitchen.  Before appliances.

Here's the breakfast nook.  The curtains are gone, as is the ivy.

We had to do a couple of things to the kitchen for safety and sanity, probably before we even finished unpacking:
1.  The pantry had to be fixed because it was too close to the stove, and it made the paint on the pantry bubble and scorched it a bit on spaghetti night!  Yikes!  So my hubby figured out a way to keep the pantry to some degree and added some much needed counterspace near the stove.  Glad he's creative like that.
2.  We had to remove that drop ceiling and the cabinets over the bar so that I didn't feel like I was cooking in a cave.  It was bad with one person, but unbearable with two and a toddler running around. 

So here is the most recent "before", as in when I was getting ready to make soup this weekend and decided to try my phone camera out.   Yes, that is just over three feet of clearance with the fridge in place (the black thing to the right, across from the sink).  It's tight.

 I'm hoping for a new camera for my birthday, and if that works out, the pictures should be much, much better.  The phone camera is not too bad, though.  It just seems to automatically adjust photos I upload from it, so they are not as clear, and they seemed cropped.  But even from this photo you get an idea about just how tight it is.

The positive:  It's got great, great potential.   It's not bad to cook in, now that there is space beside the stove.  We've got space to expand, that is a blessing!

(We've already dealt with the paneling.  The acoustic tile ceiling and fluorescent lighting are part of the kitchen reno plans.  Can you see where I slapped a photoimpact patch/did bad cloning on those cabinets over the bar and the window, to see if I could help the cave feeling?  Terrible job, but it gave me the guts to rip those suckers out!)

Another positive:  That big window in the breakfast room?  It looks out at this:

Which I love, love love about this house in the morning, reading the paper, blogs, or a book, drinking coffee.   Bliss before work.  We just need to be able to get a regular sized table in that nook, so the whole family can enjoy the garden!

So that's my goal for 2012.  The kitchen.  Which, given the open floor plan, also involves the living area and breakfast nook, and a bit of the dining room.   And a whole lot of elbow grease.  Which is why I was hesitant to jump in-- that's nearly half of the house!  But we're ready.  I think.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm dreaming of a white kitchen...

Our new year's resolution:  to get the kitchen, our matchbox-size kitchen, remodeled.

For real, this time.

It seems that every time we would start to get serious about it, there would be a major life event that just made a remodel seem nowhere near as necessary as we thought.  This year, however, we have plans in hand and are ready to go.

The sticky part of our remodel (aren't they always tricky/sticky in some way) is that we have a very open floorplan.  One that involves more than just the kitchen.  I'll get the pictures up this weekend to show all the gory details.  In the meanwhile, I've been detail dreaming at houzz.com:

Kauai Residence - Hawaii contemporary kitchen
Love the cabinets in this one.

Farmhouse Kitchen - Open Floor Plan contemporary kitchen
I really like the dark wood used for the bar here.

Kitchen contemporary kitchen
Beautiful backsplash.

All the kitchens I love have white (or off-white) cabinets, so that's a definite yes.  I'm still up in the air regarding hardwood floors vs. the durability of tile.  What do you prefer?  Is hardwood that hard to deal with?  Is tile the way to go?  This is where I'm stuck... it has to be right, because whatever we decide on will cover half of our house!  No pressure. None. at. all.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A mini getaway.

It's nice to be able to get away for a bit with my family.
Laguna Madre at Sunset

I am grateful to live in a place with weather that pretty much permits nice fishing/reading trips year round.  My hubby and the boys fish, I catch up on my happy reading-- I read a lot for work, so it's a real treat to be able to kick back for a bit with good just-because-I-want-to-read-it fiction.

The trout caught was great!  It was my hubby's recipe, so again, not sure what he did out there on the grill, but here are some great recipes the foil one, with added spices, is what my hubby does.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I could move to Utah...

I have entered HGTV's Dream Home giveaway each year since 2003.  This year would be so perfect to win!  Not that any year would have been a bad one.

I could do modern western ranch.  Love, love, love the site chosen and the design.  I especially like the party-ready backyard.

Beautiful.  I know that the expenses to keep this place would probably be more than an annual salary, but the experience would be worth it.  If I won, I would take three momentos, hang out in that hot tub for a bit, and then sell the place and get back to life. 

And pay off my mortgage, set up the college fund, buy some land in the Hill Country.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Brasato al Barolo es celeste

Otherwise known as beef braised in red wine. Or pot roast, the jazzy, heavenly version.

I made it last night to serve tomorrow night.  One last cooking scramble before I went back to work and it becomes about "what can I make in 25 minutes!?!" most nights instead of  "wow, that's sounds good!  Three hours?  No problem!" 

The cook's notes and several reviews suggested "letting it sit" for a couple of days, to marinate in its own juices, before reheating and serving.  Sounded a little eww to me, having limited experience with pot roast and no experience cooking it, but I was willing to give it a shot, especially wth a dish described as "heavenly"  and "the comfort food of the gods."  And "wicked good."  That's my favorite review and what sold me on making this roast.


That and the fact that there would be that leftover wine to be dealt with.  Waste not, want not. 

I sampled a bit of the roast this evening from the fridge after I got home from work.  It was nothing like the only brush I've had with pot roast before, when I was about eight and at my mom's friend's home.  She put a hunk of meat with some carrots and tomato sauce in a slow cooker and let it sit. there. all. day.  That was not heavenly.  That was eww (sorry, mom's friend, who shall remain nameless.  You did make great cookies!).  This recipe is super tender and tasty right out of the icebox-- I can't wait to try it warm!

I think we'll have it with some polenta tomorrow with it, if I can get home at a decent hour--  Alton Brown's is wicked good.  Maybe even wicked awesome. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Black-Eyed Peas (not the band)

I can’t stand black-eyed peas.  There, I said it.  Not the band. Will-I-Am and Fergie are fine, as are those other two guys that no one seems to remember their names, including me.  I just can’t stand the canned legume.  I had to make black-eyed peas, tradition on all sides of the family demanded it.  No telling what kind of mayhem would happen if we didn’t eat our spoonful of black eyed peas on New Year’s Day.
So I try to be sure that I make something I really, really like with those peas-that-are-really-beans.  Here’s what we made:
Grilled Pork Tenderloin (this is my hubby’s recipe, so I don’t have a link.   I’ll have to get him to post whatever he does to make it taste so amazing.)
Sweet Potato Salad.  I saw the recipe in Christmas with Southern Living 2011 and thought it sounded tasty, with the mustard, cinnamon, and curry.  It is, but I think they got the temperature wrong in the book – 450 for 45 minutes seems to scorch things in my oven, not roast them.  Thirty minutes or so at 425 was perfect. [side note:  it is amazing on the second day, cold or hot!]
Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread.  Not my grandmother’s recipe, but from Bethany Weathersby, who graciously posted it on allrecipes.com (great site!).  I didn't have buttermilk, so did the vinegar thing and it still came out great. 
Today we are having leftovers!  I am so grateful that my family is not picky about leftovers.  Waste not, want not!
I am not really ready to go back to work-- there is no place like home--but do miss my other 826(!) children (I work in education).  So I will make sure everything is ready to go for tomorrow and look forward to a great new year!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2007!

Well, that was the year I made a New Year resolution to start blogging.  Better late than never, right?